What's new on Kia's Geneva Motor Show stand?
Proof that the Koreans have come a long way since Prides with 12-inch whitewall tyres. Kia unveiled its new compact weapon with a trio that made Ford’s Fiesta look fairly average – the Soul. The Soul Burner for bad extreme sports blokes, the Diva for glamour girls and the Searcher for urban escapees. We first saw the Soul concept projects in Detroit 2006 and Kia says it will be in UK showrooms within 12 months. The Soul (Seoul?) mates will use an all-new platform but share engines with the Ceed. No bad thing.
Kia’s version of the Volkswagen Blue Motion series was also proudly displayed. Two Eco-Ceed concepts based on the strong five-door Ceed and three-door Proceed 1.6-litre CRDi diesels are designed to enhance the green aspect without looking alien. In other words lower suspension and under-floor trays to achieve more slippery Cd scores, combined with low rolling resistance Michelin 17-inch rubber. With these mods made the Proceeds emissions topple by 17 percent to 104 g/km. You’d think all these second visits to wind tunnels wouldn’t be needed if manufacturer’s spent more time in the first place?
The Soul Burner’s black 19-inch alloys with red embellishments. They’re making it to production, albeit an inch smaller.
What were they thinking?
The Soul is Kia’s answer to the Scion XB, the boxy down-with-kids car that Toyota really ought to be bringing to Europe. Kia says what we see here is 95 percent production ready and it will be available with a huge options menu for personalisation, a la Mini.
In a nutshell
The Power to Surprise indeed. Kia flogged 1.27 million cars worldwide last year, plus we get cars with a 7-year warranty. The Ceed and its offspring should be ignored at your peril. Apart from the barge-like Opirus, which has the ‘Power to Offend’.